Less than 48 hours after a humbling 76-68 road loss at UC Irvine, the University of Hawai’i basketball team will get a huge opportunity for recovery and reclamation.
The Rainbow Warriors will play a crucial Big West Conference road game at UC Riverside on Saturday afternoon at the SRC Arena in Riverside, Calif. The game is scheduled to start at 1:00 pm Pacific (11:00 am Hawai’i) and will be televised on Spectrum SportsNet (channel 1218 for Spectrum subscribers in Hawai’i).
Hawai’i is 14-5 overall and in fourth place in the BWC at 5-2. The Highlanders are 14-6 overall and alone in first place in the BWC at 7-1. Simply put, the Warriors need a win to remain with the lead pack at the top of the standings (UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara are both 6-1).
Hawai’i fell off the pace after Thursday’s loss at UC Irvine. Head coach Eran Ganot lamented “too many lapses” in that loss, particularly on the defensive side.
Despite that, the Warriors continue to lead the BWC in scoring defense, allowing 61.1 points per game. They also continue to lead the nation for fewest 3-pointers allowed (75), and are fourth nationally for 3-point percentage defense (.264).
Hawai’i’s stellar 3-point defense will be put to the test against a UCR team that leads the Big West in 3-pointers made (8.4 per game) and attempted (22.9 per game).
The Warriors’ starting five – which has started every game this season – handles most of the minutes. Noel Coleman leads the balanced offense with 14.4 points per game.
Kamaka Hepa (11.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, 38 3-pointers) and Bernardo da Silva (10.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 25 blocked shots) should create an intriguing matchup with the UCR bigs.
JoVon McClanahan (10.1 points, 3.1 assists) has scored in double-figures in seven consecutive games; Samuta Avea is contributing 9.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.
UCR will be buoyed by the return of star guard Zyon Pullin. The 6-4 senior guard missed five games earlier this month with an injury but returned for Thursday’s 74-72 win over UC Davis. He was limited to eight points in 22 minutes, but made the game-winning basket on a drive down the lane with 2.4 seconds remaining.
Pullin ranks third in the BWC in scoring at 18.8 points per game. He gets most of his points on drives to the basket and has a .520 overall field goal percentage, including .500 (14 for 28) on his limited attempts from 3-point range. He is also contributing 4.3 rebounds and a team-high 4.0 assists per game.
Flynn Cameron, 6-5 graduate guard, is averaging 11.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game, and leads the team with 42 3-pointers.
Jamal Hartwell II, a 5-10 graduate guard, emerged as another scoring threat while filling in for the injured Pullin this month. In his last four games, he is 15 for 27 from 3-point range while averaging 20.3 points per game. Overall for the season, he is at 9.5 points per game and ranks second on the team with 36 3-pointers and a .450 percentage from 3-point range.
In the post, the Highlanders start 6-10 freshman center Lachlan Olbrich (10.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game), and 6-8 graduate forward Kyle Owens (10.0 points and 5.6 rebounds).
Since joining the Big West in the 2012-13 season, Hawai’i has a 7-4 record against the Highlanders in games played at SRC Arena in Riverside.
HAWAI’I (14-5 overall, 5-2 Big West) at UC RIVERSIDE (14-6, 7-1)
When: Saturday, January 21, 1:00 pm Pacific (11:00 am Hawai’i)
Where: SRC Arena, Riverside, Calif.
TV: Spectrum SportsNet (channel 1218 for Spectrum Hawai’i subscribers)
streaming video: ESPN+
Radio/audio streaming: ESPN Honolulu (92.7 FM, 1420 AM, espnhonolulu.comSideline Hawaii app)
Hawai’i at UC Riverside
Cal Poly at UC Davis
Long Beach State at UC San Diego
CSU Bakersfield at UC Santa Barbara
Cal State Fullerton at CSUN